by Little Yellow Teapot (a tea steeping marvel and occasional contributing author)
Your ever-so-proper-and-thoughtful teapot here to advise you humans on an important issue: teapot cozies (or, as the British spell it, “cosies”). There is more to know than you might think. Read on to see all the important details.
Keep Your Tea Cozy
The first thing for you humans to realize is that a cozy is the best way to keep us teapots warm while you sip that cupful. Those little warming stands with their tiny candles singe our bottoms, and zapping your tea in the microwave might be fine for your solitary cuppa but not at a tea party or at meal time.
“Cozy” is defined in The American Heritage® Dictionary as “snug, comfortable, and warm.” Sounds very appropriate for these keepers of the teapot. The very name “tea cozy” conjures up images such as crackling fires, a warm comforter or throw, and a comfy chair. Part of this setting, of course, is a steaming pot of freshly steeped tea and a plate of tea sandwiches, cupcakes, or something equally yummy.
Thus the importance of the problem of how to keep the tea in your pot warm. What’s cozy about a room-temperature pot of tea? Nothing as far as this little teapot is concerned.
There are always those aforementioned tea warmers, usually comprised of little stands that fit a “tea candle” inside them with your teapot sitting above the candle’s flame. But getting singed does not appeal to me and my teapot cousins. Plus, some tea aficionado type humans think these “overcook” the tea, especially as the amount in the pot gets low. I would tend to agree!
A better option for many tea lovers is to keep the pot covered with something. Some say that tea towels were used first. Considering that steady tea drinking started with the aristocracy in Europe (the Netherlands, France and then England) due to how costly tea was, it seems unlikely that tea towels were their teapot “blankets” of choice. As tea became less expensive, those less affluent households very possibly did use tea towels. However, in this day and age, a hostess’ reputation often rests on how well her tea table looked – thus the rise in popularity of a wide variety of tea cozy designs.
Tea cozies are mainly made of quilted material, but some are knitted or crocheted, some are made of felt and others of high-end fabrics like cashmere and silk. The variety of designs is virtually endless, ranging from folksy to hoity-toity. Embroidered and beaded ones (popular during the late Victorian era) are also becoming more available again. Floral prints are probably the most popular, based on what I’ve seen. Other popular fabrics are cats, dogs, stripes, polka dots, the ubiquitous paisley, fruits, nature, teawares, and holiday themes.
Some of the most unique designs include a crown-shaped cozy and a bamboo basket cozy with a special teapot sized to fit inside it perfectly. There is also one shaped like a cupcake that looked more like a thistle with its downy threads bursting out the top. “Critter” designs I’ve seen include one in the shape of a ginger cat, several in the shape of frogs (personally, not very appetizing), a couple of ladybug ones, a bumblebee, a poodle available in both white and baby blue, and cashmere elephants. Don’t forget the whimsical, such as a knit cozy with an elf sitting on the knitted flower-strewn top, another in the shape of a beehive complete with bees on the sides, or the cottage-shaped cozies that bring a smile as they keep your tea warm. Lots of antique tea cozies are out there, too, such as one design of a doll with a celluloid head and a full skirt over a wire frame. It was fairly large and really dominated the tea table.
All this style, all this cuteness, all this usefulness at prices ranging from about $15 up to over $100, depending on the materials used, the intricacy of the design (e.g., lots of lace, embroidery, and bead work), and the size (from 2-cup up to 8-cup). They are a great and affordable way to keep your tea (and your teatime) cozy.
How Many Cozy Styles Are There?
One of the most effective ways to keep your teapot warm during tea time is the cozy. And there are so many different designs that you are sure to find one that best adds just the right touch to your tea time table. From animal shapes to cottages, from buttons to ribbons, both quilted and knitted, and in all colors of the rainbow.
This array of designs can be divided into several styles, such as these:
5 Signs That It’s Time to Put Your Tea Cozy Out to Pasture
Cozies are made out of things that do not generally last until the end of time. Sooner or later, you need to put your cozy out to pasture. But how do you know? Here are some signs to look for:
What to do when your cozy exhibits one or more of these signs? Go shopping, of course!
5 Odd Uses for a Tea Cozy
Tea cozies are handy things, keeping teapots warm for those of us who take our time in consuming the tea within. But these cozies have other uses besides “thermal conservation.”
5 Ways to Get Cozy with Tea
Tea is the essence of coziness. Cozy isn’t difficult. Tea isn’t difficult. But there are still folks who need some assistance in achieving the state of existence where both are appropriately combined. To that end, I present you with five ways to get cozy with tea.
- The Right Tea – Believe it or not, different teas have different feels in your mouth when you sip them. Some describe it as “buttery,” “creamy,” or “full.” It can also be described as “cozy.” A number of oolong teas have this (let them slightly cool before sipping to get the full effect). Teas from the Dancong area of China, especially those from the Phoenix Mountains, have this quality. Nilgiri black teas are said to have this type of feel to them, also, as long as you remember to steep them lightly to avoid any bitterness. If you like your tea with milk (aka “British style”), then you can’t go wrong with a nice Assam black tea. Just be sure that the tea you choose will warm you all the way through – the essence of coziness.
- Glass Teawares – Part of the enjoyment of tea is the color of the liquid. It can vary from almost clear to almost as dark as a cup of coffee. Glass teawares like the sipping cup shown here that I saw posted on Facebook can give you a lovely view of that color. Glass teapots can show you those leaves in their “agony” (or as I like to call it, “their dance of joy”) as they spin and twirl and soak up the water around them. Some teas, especially oolongs, can enlarge to many times their dry size.
- Candlelight’s Glow – I love candlelight, as I’ve mentioned in a number of previous articles on this blog. The softness, the flickering, the warm yellowish tint – they all create a cozy atmosphere. Colors seem softer, a bit muted, and less brash. Corners of the room in their darkness are mysterious yet enveloping like a warm wool blanket. A cozy atmosphere for tea! (Of course, fireplaces are good for this, too, but not everyone has one.)
- Comfortable Seating – We can highly recommend a reclining loveseat for the ultimate in cozy and comfortable seating for two. Even if you are having tea all by yourself, the extra space will be great to fill with additional pillows, a warm throw or two, and maybe a stuffed bear. If you don’t have such a loveseat, no problem. Overstuffed armchairs are good, too. Even one of those huge sectional sofas that can seat a throng of relatives during the holidays (or your friends for watching that big football game) can be comfortable and cozy on a chilly evening when it’s just you, the cat, and a good book with that cup of tea.
- A Peaceful Setting – You have the perfect cuppa tea. You selected the perfect book. The candles are lit and casting their magical light. You’re seated comfortably with plenty of pillows and that warm throw tucked around your legs. Time for the final ingredient: mood setting music playing softly and creating that peaceful setting so important to enjoying it all.
May you have many cozy tea times ahead, humans. TOOOT!
© 2016-2020 A.C. Cargill photos and text
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